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Bead - Memento Mori

Memento Mori

  • Object:

    Bead

  • Place of origin:

    France (probalby, probably Paris , made)

  • Date:

    first half 19th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved elephant ivory

  • Museum number:

    216-1867

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is an ivory memento mori, depicting a male head, a female head, and a skull conjoined. First this bead appears to have be made in the first half of the 16th century, but is made in the 19th century in France, probably Paris.
This sculpture is not, and has never been a pendant. It was thus presented as a curio, a single sculpture to be turned in the hand of a kind of anachronistic to devotional practice in the first half of the sixteenth century.
When first displayed in 1862, and at the time of the acquisition, the ivory was attributed to Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654), a telling adscription no doubt predicated on the piece's Italianate, post-Mannerist, realism.

Physical description

Bead from a chaplet or rosary, carved ivory, depicting a male head, a female head, and a skull conjoined.

Place of Origin

France (probalby, probably Paris , made)

Date

first half 19th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved elephant ivory

Dimensions

Height: 5.5 cm

Object history note

In the possession of John Webb, London, by 1862 (London 1862, cat. no. 122); purchased from Webb in 1867 From the Webb Collection, for £12.

Descriptive line

Memento Mori, bead from a chaplet or rosary, carved ivory, probably French (Paris?), first half of the nineteenth century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Inventory of Art Objects acquired in the Year 1867. Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol. 1. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 7
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929, Part II, p. 70
Williamson, Paul. Medieval Ivory Carvings in the Walters Art Gallery. Apollo. CLV/483, 2002, p. 21
p. 82
Maskell, W., A Description of the Ivories Ancient and Medieval in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1872
pl. XL, I
Maskell, A., Ivories, London, 1905
I, p. 449, II, cat. no. 1238
Koechlin, R., Les Ivoires gothiques français, 3 vols, Paris, 1924 (reprinted Paris 1968)
p. 128
Grodecki, Louis. Ivoires Français. Paris, 1947
Williamson, Paul, ‘Medieval Ivory carvings in the Wernher Collection’, in: Apollo, CLV / 483, May 2002, p. 21
part 1, pp. 478-479
Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014
Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014, part 1, pp. 478-479, cat. no. 167

Production Note

formerly thought to be of the 16th century

Materials

Ivory

Subjects depicted

Subject; Skull; Memento Mori; Man; Woman

Categories

Death; Sculpture; Religion

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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